Tag: hour of code


Hour of Code–the Series

Coding–that mystical geeky subject that confounds students and teachers alike. Confess, when you think of coding, you see:



…when you should see


December 7-13, Computer Science Education will host the Hour Of Code–a one hour introduction to coding, programming, and why students should love it. It’s designed to demystify “code” and show that anyone can learn the basics to be a maker, a creator, and an innovator.


hour of code

The Fun of IFTTT

Hour of Code, coming up this December 7-13th, is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics. Since it began, over 100 million students have participated worldwide in over forty languages (data from HourofCode.com). So far this year, almost 39,000 teachers are participating across the globe:

hour of code

As I did last year, I’ll be giving you a complete selection of activities by grade-level with lots of innovative ideas on what will make coding both fun and easy to your students. Here’s a taste–something you can start in November to get students ready for more:

IFTTT (http://ifttt.com) Free

IFTTT allows users to create recipes to automate functions, such as receiving an email or text when the weather changes or being notified when you forget something at the house. It uses a simple statement that will turn all the social media mavens into engineers—IF THIS THEN THAT.


Tech Tip #105: Create Shortkeys for Windows Tools

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: I love the Windows snipping tool, but it takes too long to get to. Is there a shortkey for it?

A: Oddly, there isn’t, which is why I didn’t use it for a long time. I want a screen capture that’s instantaneous. Jing is even too slow for me (though I tolerate it because of all its cool annotations.

Then I discovered how to create a shortkey for Snipping Tool:

  • Go to Start–accessories
  • Right click on ‘snipping tool’
  • Select ‘properties’
  • Click in ‘shortcut’
  • Push the key combination you want to use to invoke the snipping tool. In my case, I used Ctrl+Alt+S
  • Save

Now all I have to do is remember the shortkey!

BTW, this works for any tool.


Want to Code on an IPad? Here are 3 Great Apps

codingCoding has become the poster child for a tech-infused classroom. Over 15 million kids participated in Hour of Code this past December. So many teachers took students to Code.org’s curriculum offerings, the website crashed.

So what is ‘coding’? According to the Urban Dictionary, it’s another word for ‘programming’ which means:

The art of turning caffeine into Error Messages

Let’s go to Webster’s definition instead:

The act or job of creating computer programs

Not much better. To techies, ‘programming’ or ‘coding’ is

a series of symbols, used synonymously as text and grouped to imply or prompt the multimedia in the games and programs that happen on computers, websites, and mobile apps.


This complicated definition is why–historically–programming, IT, and Computer Science have been of interest only to the geekiest of kids. But there are good reasons why kids should like this activity. According to Computer Science Education Week:



Programming Shortkeys for any Windows Tool

shortkeyCreating a shortkey will quickly become a favorite with your students. I use it for the snipping tool–because we use that a lot in class–but you can create one for any program you use a lot. Depdending upon the device you use will dictate how you do this.


  • Go to Start
  • Right click on the desired program
  • Select ‘properties’
  • Click in ‘shortcut’
  • Push the key combination you want to use to invoke the snipping tool. In my case, I used Ctrl+Alt+S
  • Save

Here’s a video to show you:

Now all I have to do is remember the shortkey!


Called hotkeys. These are built in on some devices and require an app on others. On the iPad go to:

Settings > General Settings > Keyboard Settings

Scroll down and click “add new shortcut.” The one drawback is that it does not include new paragraphs on the ipad/ iphone. To do that you’ll need Text Expander, but because Text Expander isn’t supported in every app, I just use this. So, for example, at the top of every Journal Entry I like to have:


Use the Auto Hotkeys program



Hour of Code: Create a Macro

Creating a macro is a quick, easy programming exercise that students fifth grade and up can accomplish with moderate supervision.

By fifth grade, students appreciate technology for how it can speed up their homework and class projects and seek out ways to use it to make their educational journey easier.. Take advantage of this by introducing pre-programming skills like creating macros. Here’s a video I shared during Summer PD:


Hour of Code: Primo–Programming

codingProgramming in the classroom is hot. It’s become the software equivalent of iPads–everyone has to try it and missing Hour of Code risks losing your Tech Teacher stripes.

Who would think the geeky cousin of math and science would become so popular? Thanks in equal parts to Khan Academy and Common Core, the fundamental core of programming–students as problem solvers–has moved from theory to practice. Common Core provides strategies in its Standards for Mathematical Practice and Khan Academy provides the mechanism in its highly-popular (free) computer programming courses.

This follows such worthy programming adventures like Scratch and Alice, originally geared for Middle School, but their immense popularity and intuitive approach inspired games like Tynker, Blockly and the wildly popular Robot Turtles for youngers, each more fun and simpler than the last. We’re not talking C++ or Fortran or DOS. These offerings are intuitive, forgiving, and emphasize observing, testing, thinking, trying, failing, and trying again.

Traditional programming, with formulas and symbols and frightening words like ‘algorithm’ and ‘script’, is mostly relegated to fifth grade and up.

Enter Primo.

“We are working on a tool that empowers children to become creators, and not just consumers within the digitalised world we live in. Programming is an incredible tool that empowers people, it changes the perspective on problem solving and logic in general. … Mastering logic from an early stage of learning creates the right mind set to assimilate more notion-related content. … Skills are mastered gradually. … Think of Primo as the very first step in a child’s programming education. Primo provides the very basic ABC of programming logic.”


hour of code

Hour of Code Activity: Build a Website

As a tech teacher, I see a lot of student websites. I’m always impressed with the effort, the tenacity, and often the skill, but most require ‘some additional work’ to be published.

And then I got an email from Stephen Byrne. In his quest to better learn history, he blended it with his love of of programming and built a website. It’s called History for Kids. It is exceptional, not only for its clean, intuitive presentation, but it’s age-appropriate language. If your students struggle finding research websites that use words at their grade level, suggest they build their own site like Stephen did:


k-8 coding

61 K-8 Hour of Code Suggestions–by Grade Level

Here are ideas of apps and websites that teachers in my PLN used successfully in the past during Hour of Code:

hour of codeKindergarten

Start kindergartners with problem solving. If they love Legos, they’ll love coding

  1. BotLogic–great for Kindergarten and youngers
  2. Code–learn to code, for students
  3. Daisy the Dinosaur—intro to programming via iPad
  4. How to train your robot–a lesson plan from Dr. Techniko
  5. Kodable--great for youngers–learn to code before you can read
  6. Move the Turtle–programming via iPad for middle schoolhour of code
  7. Primo–a wooden game, for ages 4-7
  8. Program a human robot (unplugged)
  9. Scratch Jr.

1st Grade

  1. Code–learn to code, for students
  2. Hopscotch–programming on the iPad
  3. Primo–a wooden game, for ages 4-7
  4. Scratch Jr.
  5. Tynker